Strange Eyes

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Nine

I awoke.

I was in a room that wasn’t mine.

Everything looked dim. Shades were drawn. The walls were dark. Everything was dark. I blinked, the realization creeping up on me through the lingering haze of sleep that I was in an unfamiliar place.

Memories of the shrouded night before caught up to me, and I breathed in quickly, the panic setting in. Sheets were pulled around my sweating body. As I flung them off, a wave of nausea took me over. Staggering to my feet, I splayed a hand along the dark wall. My body closing in on itself, I heaved as a brownish liquid spewed out of me. I coughed profusely, my stomach acid burning the back of my throat.

Wiping a hand along my forehead, I looked up. He was there.

It was Hunter.

He stood in the doorway, looking at me. A raging sense of fear and wild curiosity took me over. Why was I there? Why was he there? Where were we?

“Where am I?” I asked. My voice was hoarse. I coughed again, moving away from the dense puddle of my stomach contents that I had stained the carpet with.

Hunter studied me, seeming to choose his words carefully. My body was tense. They had kidnapped me. Something had happened the night before, and in the confusion, they had taken me from my home. The boys with their cigarettes and their tattoos that were only around in the summer.

Suddenly it all made sense. The enigma that they were, that I thought they were, dissolved right in front of me. They were looking for trouble. Money, perhaps. And they preyed on me. It explained the following, the random appearances.

Waves of nausea plagued me once again, and I put a hand over my mouth. My heart hammered in my ears. “I’m going to be sick again.” I said, before Hunter had a chance to reply to my previous question.

He sprang to attention, quick and reflexive. In a second he was beside me, his hand along my arm. “Let me help you, Jane.” It was so strange being near him. But given the strange and frightening circumstances, I welcomed any form of help from my dire state. Even if it came from the source of it.

I held my hand against my mouth as my insides ached and trembled with inward strain. Hunter grabbed a trash can that I hadn’t seen before from somewhere close by. Immediately I gagged into it as he held it up for me, taking my hair in his other hand to move it out of the way.

I found myself in a state of vulnerability, my potential captor holding my hair out of my face as I puked.

I didn’t know how to make sense of the whole ordeal. Along with a sense of fear, there was a second sense of curiosity. I wanted to know what had brought me there. What had evoked his presence? The others couldn’t have been far. I needed answers.

“God.” I said, wiping my mouth. It tasted bitter. Hunter looked at me sympathetically, his dark features stern and hard. “You need to rest. I’ll explain everything once you’ve rested. Can you trust me?”

I was astonished by him. Without thinking, I nodded my head deftly. Looking at him, there was something so…familiar about him. He seemed, without explanation, someone that I could trust.

Wordlessly, and with the same hard sternness, he helped me back into bed. Pulling the sheets around me, the action carried no intimacy. Only necessity. My thoughts traveled a million miles a minute. Nothing made sense. Nothing.

But I couldn’t fight the overwhelming fatigue that ravished my weakened body. I was sick. I needed rest. That was all that my incoherent mind could put together.

Hunter left the room after what seemed like no time at all with a glass of water in hand. He pressed the cool glass to my lips, and I swallowed tiny sips of the chilled liquid with effort. My throat was raw from the stomach acid. Pressing a hand along my stomach, I could feel my hip bones.

My eyes felt unbearably heavy.

The last thing that I saw before I drifted off was Hunter’s intent gaze, watching me.

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